Summary and Table of Contents

Summary and Table of Contents
Purpose This note sets out DFID’s approach to capacity development. By
developing the capacity of our partners, DFID financial aid and technical advice can
be transformative and have a more durable impact. The note summarises the
evidence and provides links to further guidance. It is a resource for DFID managers
and advisers when developing and implementing country strategies or programmes.
Whose capacity? Capacity development refers to the capacity of individuals,
organisations and the broader institutional framework within which individuals and
organisations operate to deliver specific tasks and mandates. Capacity development
goes well beyond the public sector. DFID invests in capacity development in the
private sector, civil society and research organisations.
What’s good capacity development? Capacity development is an endogenous
process: external actors, such as DFID, play a supporting role, helping domestic
leaders develop and implement their own strategies to improve the capacity of
organisations or amend the institutional framework. Capacity development for
poverty reduction can appear technical but is ultimately political. Greater
transparency, empowerment and accountability are needed.
How can external actors better support capacity development? Capacity
development requires improvements to aid effectiveness, in particular the use of
technical cooperation. DFID should consider not just technical assistance but a wider
range of learning opportunities (such as mentoring or South-South exchanges).
Fragile and conflict affected countries in particular require a more nuanced approach,
given the scale of need and the tension between short-term priorities (such as
building confidence) and long-term capacity (to build stable and legitimate states).
Table of contents
Summary and Table of Contents ............................................................................ 1
1. Introduction ......................................................................................................... 2
2. What’s the evidence base? ................................................................................. 4
3. Whose capacity? ................................................................................................. 5
4. What’s good capacity development? .................................................................. 7
6. Capacity development in fragile or conflict-affected countries .......................... 10
5. Aid instruments, results and value for money ................................................... 12
Annex 1: Further information on capacity development ........................................ 16
End notes .............................................................................................................. 19
1. Introduction
1.1 Since 2010, DFID has been much more explicit than in the past about
development results – the concrete benefits which derive from UK aid and which will
reduce world poverty. They are set out in DFID’s business and operational plans and
country offices are held to account for achieving them.
1.2 For these results to be sustainable, and contribute to lasting poverty
reduction improvements, it is important to pay attention to the ability of partner
countries to manage their own affairs, and generate development results while
becoming less dependent on aid. DFID should provide financial aid and technical
advice in ways that are transformative and have a durable impact. If not, the benefits
will stop once programmes end.
Box 1 – Capacity and Capacity Development – Agreed OECD DAC Definitions
Capacity is the ability of people, organisations and society as a whole to manage their affairs
Capacity Development is the process whereby people, organisations and society as a whole
unleash, strengthen, create, adapt and maintain capacity over time.
Promotion of capacity development refers to the things that outside partners can do to support,
facilitate or catalyse capacity development and related change processes.
1.3 A summary of international priorities for capacity development is provided by
the Cairo Consensus (see box 2).
Box 2 - The Cairo Consensus on Capacity Development (March 2011) is a call to action to
improve capacity development. It recommends:
- making sure capacity development is at the heart of all significant development efforts, not an afterthought
- focusing on short-term, intermediate and longer-term development results
- promoting national leadership of domestic capacity development, aligning international aid behind a
country’s vision and national strategy
- avoid undermining existing capacity, for example phasing out parallel implementation units and
strengthening country systems
- investing more in learning of what works and doesn’t, in particular south-south cooperation and
learning with middle-income countries
- a new approach to technical cooperation, which is demand-led, transparent and tailored to the
- making capacity development a priority for countries affected by fragility, working with the g7+ and
International Dialogue on State-Building and Peace-Building
1.4 Capacity development was discussed at the 2011 High Level Forum on Aid
Effectiveness in Busan. A number of commitments were made, to which the UK
signed up (see box 3). The Effective Institutions Building Block is a new light-touch
coordination mechanism established to follow-up on these commitments.
Box 3 - Busan: effective institutions commitments
Effective institutions and policies are essential for sustainable development. Institutions fulfilling core
state functions should, where necessary, be further strengthened, alongside the policies and practices
of providers of development co-operation, to facilitate the leveraging of resources by developing
countries. Developing countries will lead in efforts to strengthen these institutions, adapting to local
context and differing stages of development. To this end, we will:
a) Support the implementation of institutional and policy changes led by developing countries,
resulting in effective resource mobilisation and service delivery, including national and sub-national
institutions, regional organisations, parliaments and civil society.
b) Assess country institutions, systems and capacity development needs, led by developing countries.
c) Support the development of improved evidence on institutional performance to inform policy
formulation, implementation and accountability, led by developing countries.
d) Deepen our learning on the determinants of success for institutional reform, exchanging knowledge
and experience at the regional and global levels.
1.5 In 2010, the Peer Review of UK development assistance by the OECD
Development Assistance Committee (DAC) concluded that DFID could be more
strategic in building governments’ capacities to manage their own
development.ii In particular, DFID treated capacity development as a cross-cutting
issue but did not have a clear or explicit vision of capacity development. This
hindered DFID’s ability to disseminate capacity development lessons across sectors
or themes. Programme design was not systematically grounded in a robust capacity
assessment or a strategic review of the options to promote capacity development
beyond technical assistance.iii
1.6 In May 2012, the DFID Development Policy Committee considered DFID’s
approach to capacity development. It recognised its importance to achieve
sustainable results. The Committee agreed that it should remain a cross-cutting issue
for DFID as it was relevant for every programme, but lessons and evidence were
better generated and shared by sector/theme specific teams. Relevant DFID
guidance is being updated to help teams consider capacity issues in an appropriate
manner. The Governance, Open Societies and Anti-Corruption Department maintains
a watching brief.
1.7 This note summarises the evidence and provides links to further guidance. It is a
resource for DFID managers and advisers when developing and implementing
country strategies or programmes. It does not cover capacity development at the
international level or in multilateral organisations.
2. What’s the evidence base?
2.1 The evidence base for capacity development is fragmented and patchy.
There have been few rigorous studies and evaluations explicitly on capacity
development (see box 4). This is because capacity development covers a wide range
of concepts, academic and professional fields and practical applications. This note
draws on the most relevant research and evaluations, and provides links to existing
lessons learned, tools and guidance.
Box 4 – Key evaluations and research programmes
Some of the most relevant studies include DFID’s 2006 evaluation of its technical cooperation for
economic management capacity in Africa. The evaluation could only identify a capacity
development impact in a minority of cases and concluded that DFID lacked a strategic approach. It
recommended that DFID should adopt a more rigorous and systematic approach to the assessment of
the institutional and organisational context. Lack of progress in civil service reform was the most
significant factor explaining the limited capacity development impact. The evaluation led to DFID’s
2006 guidance on technical cooperation.
The World Bank’s evaluation of its capacity building work in Africa concluded that Bank assistance
was too fragmented, mostly designed and managed operation-by-operation, and not based on
appropriate needs assessments. Sector-specific strategies were needed. Tools and instruments could
be improved – technical assistance and training in particular often proved ineffective in helping to build
sustained public sector capacity. It recommended that the Bank should treat capacity development as
a core objective, which is country-owned, results-oriented and evidence-based. Since this evaluation,
the World Bank Institute has become a source of global knowledge and innovation on capacity
A multi-donor evaluation of public sector governance is about to be completed. One of its findings
is that donors continue to under-estimate the importance of organisational capacity. Donors tend to
focus on where the action appears to be, rather than the overall framework of government. They target
specific operational units rather than line ministries. The evaluation found some successes, such as a
in the Ugandan Ministry of Finance or Indonesia’s External Audit Board, but, in general, donors and
partner governments paid insufficient attention to organisational capacity as a means of development
DFID has funded relevant research programmes. The European Centre for Development Policy
Management research on Capacity, Change and Performance confirmed that external actors can
facilitate but not drive domestic change processes – by providing access to new resources, ideas or
connections. It did not identify one single best strategy to support capacity development. What
mattered was to develop a good understanding of the local context, have open discussions with
partners, consider the political and intangible aspects of capacity, and unleash domestic potential and
leadership, for example through learning and adaptation. The University of Manchester’s research
programme on Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth examined state-business relationships. It
concluded that institutional effectiveness, and therefore development outcomes, depended on the way
in which institutions interact with organisations and individuals. These are political processes. Donor
agencies should learn to think and act politically. DFID’s new governance research programmes will
continue to examine capacity issues for example the Effective States and Inclusive Development
Research Centre based at Manchester University.
3. Whose capacity?
3.1 Through the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, Fragile
States themselves have made capacity development a priority. In preparation for the
2011 Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, the International Dialogue and
other working groups reviewed lessons learned. This section summarises the priority
issues identified in this emerging consensus to which DFID staff need to pay most
attention, looking at the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of capacity development.
3.2 Capacity development refers to the capacity of individuals, organisations
and the broader institutional framework within which individuals and organisations
operate to deliver specific tasks and mandates. For example, in order to improve
health or education outcomes, it is important to examine:
the skills and competencies of individuals (e.g. doctors and teachers; ministry
and local government officials; private sector suppliers of drugs or school
materials; parents or patients, etc );
the specific capabilities of an organisation to carry out coordinated actions to
deliver organisational goals (e.g. the ability of a Ministry to plan, prioritise,
deploy and motivate doctors and teachers, monitor their performance, receive
and respond to external feedback from customers, etc); and
the wider institutional environment that may support or constrain the
organisation’s ability to carry out its functions. Institutions are the formal and
informal ‘rules of the games’ whereas organisations are the ‘players’
influenced by these rules (e.g. institutions can include the legal and regulatory
framework – who is entitled to provide health care and education – or the
social and cultural norms – do women or minorities feel they can access the
3.3 Those three levels are inter-related. Training, better equipment, more staff or
organisational restructuring can improve organisational capacity. However, broader
institutional reforms may be needed to remove some barriers, improve incentives and
achieve more sustainable change.ix At the same time, institutional effectiveness
depends on the way in which institutions interact with organisations and individuals –
through political processes where rules are respected, avoided or negotiated.x
Further resources
OECD (2006) Capacity Development: Working towards good practice
Learning Network on Capacity Development (LenCD) learning package on
levels and themes (online resource)
3.4 Capacity development can refer to the state, civil society or the private
sector. The capacity of the state and its institutions matters for development. There
is wide ranging evidence on how different aspects of governance, including effective
formal and informal institutions, affect economic development. Cross-country
regression analysis tends to find a correlation between effective governance, or
components of governance, and development outcomes such as growth and poverty
3.5 There is an ongoing debate as to which aspects of state capacity matter most for
development. For example, in fragile and conflict affected countries, some of the
‘core’ functions of the state may be needed to create stability and a platform for
peace and development.xii The International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and
Statebuilding has identified five priorities (legitimate politics, security, justice,
economic foundations, and revenue and services).xiii
3.6 While significant progress can be achieved in specific sectors, some factors
constrain the entire public sector (e.g. staff incentives, opportunities for corruption)
and a more comprehensive approach may be appropriate.xiv However, evaluations of
public sector management reforms usually conclude these are slow and incremental
processes. They are hard to measure and will not succeed without government
3.7 Capacity development goes well beyond the public sector. DFID invests in
capacity development in the private sector, civil society and research
organisations. For example it is compulsory for all large DFID-funded research
programmes to have a capacity building objective, based on a capacity assessment.
Box 5 provides an example of agricultural research.
Box 5 -The African Women in Agricultural Research and Development programme
AWARD is assisting women scientists in Africa who are working closely with the rural poor. The
programme not only covers technical skills, but also career development and networks of researchers.
It will help more women become successful researchers, with research subjects most relevant to
women, such as poultry. AWARD fellows benefit from a 2 year development programme, including
support from a mentor, building their scientific skills and developing their leadership capacity. The
programme currently supports 250 African women working in agricultural research and development
who have completed a BA, MA or PhD.
3.8 DFID’s approach to the private sector includes transforming the institutional
environment within which firms operate, such as cutting red tape or facilitating
trade.xvi It also extends to the individual and organisational level. For example,
following a comprehensive assessment of capacity constraints in microbanking, DFID
is supporting a regional initiative in Africa – with certified financial training at the
individual level and processes and systems at the organisational level including
strengthening governance, internal controls and risk management systems.
3.9 DFID’s work on the capacity development of civil society involves a range of
approaches. These span from purely technical input (the provision of training to staff
or setting up new financial or computer systems), through organisational capacity
development (focusing on an organisation's systems and physical assets as well as
its people, its culture and its ability to plan for the future), to institutional development
(the strengthening of links and development of an enabling environment within which
organisations exist). We are also interested in the overall civil society enabling
environment, working with others to improve the laws and regulations that enable
advocacy or service delivery groups to be active. Civil society organisations which
receive DFID funding often develop their own capacity at the same time as delivering
Further Resources
- Bond (UK NGO network) (2012) Building the Capacity of Organisations and
Institutions in the South
4. What’s good capacity development?
4.1 Capacity development is an endogenous process: external actors play a
supporting role, helping domestic leaders develop and implement their own
strategies to improve the capacity of organisations or amend the institutional
framework. Local ownership is essential: the starting point should be existing
capacities; local actors’ priorities; how they would like to develop; and what they
request from external actors. Box 6 shows how domestic commitment in Rwanda and
flexible DFID support led to a sustainable result.
Box 6 – Rwanda Revenue Authority: an organisational development success story
Over a period of 11 years, DFID provided sustained assistance to reforms in the Rwanda Revenue
Authority (RRA), which has resulted in an effective organisation, supportive institutional framework
and significantly increased domestic revenue collection. The programme supported the generation
of the laws and regulations under which the RRA was established. It also furnished a state of the art
new office building, built a durable set of IT and human resource management systems under which
all business is now conducted, and provided expert technical assistance across the breadth of the
RRA’s mandate.
The period of DFID support has seen a sixfold increase in the volume of taxes collected by the RRA.
In 2008, for the first time since the genocide, the total budget was more than 50% funded by
domestically generated revenues. Also in the period of DFID support, the number of external technical
assistants working in the RRA has reduced from around 10 persons to just 2. Rwandans now fill all
senior management positions, and a number of senior managers have moved on to lead impressive
reforms in other parts of the Rwandan Government (3 Cabinet Ministers are ex-RRA staff). In
2009, the management procedures of the authority were awarded ISO 2008 accreditation – the first
Rwandan institution to attain this standard. The authority also took on a major new role advising on
and providing direct technical support for the establishment of a new revenue authority in neighbouring
At the end of the programme in 2010, the RRA was collecting the full value of DFID support every
three weeks - £24 million. The RRA has continued to perform well even after the end of direct UK
assistance. The effectiveness of the RRA in recent years has been a major factor underpinning
Rwanda’s impressive development performance – including universal primary education and
expanded access to health services.
4.2 Evidence shows a ‘best fit’ approach, suited to the local context, as opposed to
‘best practice’, transplanting models from other countries, is more likely to work. xvii
There are a number of institutional and organisational development tools and
techniques that can be used to identify opportunities and support change processes
suited to the local context. An institutional appraisal will look at broader issues, such
as incentives, law, culture, policies, voice and partnerships, whereas an
organisational assessment is narrower and focuses on systems, structure and
human resources management.xviii
Further Resources
- DFID (2002) Conducting Institutional Appraisal and Development and Source Book
on Tools and Techniques
- Governance and Social Development Resource Centre Topic Guide on Institutional
Development (online)
- LenCD learning package How-To covers change processes, capacity assessment,
partnership and M&E (online resource)
4.3 Domestic leadership is an important aspect of country-led change.xix Good
leadership is fundamentally about what leaders do in relation to others, such as
defining a vision, generating confidence, forming partnerships, and ultimately
mobilising people, resources, and ideas to collaborate on attaining shared objectives.
The Global Leadership Initiative, a multi-donor research project to which DFID
contributed, concluded that leadership is more about groups than individuals, given
that multiple people exercise leadership in any successful change event. xx There are
different "leaders" at different points in time, performing different functions, and not all
will have (in fact often many do not) any formal authority over the relevant set of
issues or problems. Leaders are de facto change agents. Interventions supporting
leadership create the space for change: they foster acceptance of the change, create
the authority to pursue the change, and promote the building of capabilities to
achieve the change.
Further Resources
- Developmental Leadership Program Research and policy initiative about the critical role of
developmental leadership and coalitions
- UNDP (2006) Leadership for Human Development Guidance on leadership
development programmes
- Leadership Development (online resource)
- World Bank Institute Leadership for Development Programme
4.4 Capacity development for poverty reduction can appear technical but is
ultimately political. Capacity – the ability to get things done – is value neutral:
greater capacity could be used for repression or exclusion rather than poverty
reduction. Successful capacity development for poverty reduction enables people to
change the relations of power and institutions that keep them poor. Understanding
the political economy context is therefore necessary to assess the political impacts
and feasibility of capacity development initiatives. Capacity development strategies
also need to identify who will act as a senior champion for the process of change,
where resistance may appear and how incentives can be changed or tapped into.
4.5 Transparency, empowerment and accountability are needed so people can
see where sustainable improvements are made, organisations become more
responsive to their needs and individuals can exercise choice and control over
decisions affecting them. So capacity development can include improving individual
or organisational capacity (e.g. learning how to access and interpret government
budgets; setting up organisations that represent collective interests); changing the
formal and informal institutions which create inequalities of opportunities and barriers
to the realisation of poor people’s rights (e.g. laws or cultural practices that prevent
women from owning or inheriting land); or building political capacities and coalitions
that mean poor people’s interests are represented when decisions are made. DFID
has a growing agenda on empowerment and accountability that strengthens a broad
set of capacities across the state, civil society and individuals.
Box 7 – sustainable use of new technology for accountability in Uganda
In Uganda, the Ministry of Health is being supported by UNICEF and WHO with DFID funding to build
its capacity to track the availability and use of malaria drugs and rapid diagnostic kits. ‘mtrac’ enables
district health centres to submit weekly health information reports using the widespread in-country
mobile phone coverage to strengthen national drugs monitoring. Mtrac also has an anonymous hotline
for individuals to report service delivery complaints. Information from the hotline is used, along with
official data, to identify bottlenecks. SMS alerts are sent to District and National stakeholders who are
expected to report on outcomes. Ugandan Parliamentarians and over 35,000 community leaders
receive regular reports on the performance of their constituencies. The Ministry of Health is now rolling
out the project on a nationwide basis. Sustainability was built in to the design of the project as it is
based on a system of basic mobile phone technology. Reporting has been integrated into existing
district and national health management information systems.
Further resources
- DFID (2009) Political Economy How-To Note
6. Capacity development in fragile or conflict-affected
6.1 Fragile and conflict affected countries in particular require a more nuanced
approach to capacity development. The scale of need and the tension between
short-term priorities (such as building confidence) and long-term capacity (to build
stable and legitimate states) are amplified. Aid too often substitutes for nascent
capacity through technical advisers, or overwhelms it by making too many demands
on over-stretched officials. The World Development Report 2011 on Conflict,
Violence and Development showed how moving out of fragility requires both building
confidence and transforming institutions, which could take a generation to develop
(see figure below). These contexts may not be able to manage too many changes on
too many fronts at the same time. Prioritisation and sequencing are essential.
6.2 The ‘New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States’, endorsed in Busan in 2011,
picks up a number of Paris Declaration aid effectiveness commitments which are
most relevant for fragile contexts, including on reducing programme implementation
units, increasing the use of pooled funds, improving the use of technical assistance
and facilitating south-south exchanges (see box 8).
Box 8 - New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States
Strengthen capacities. To ensure efficient support to build critical capacities of institutions of the
state and civil society in a balanced manner, we will increase the proportion of funds for capacity
development through jointly administered and funded pooled facilities. We will substantially reduce
programme implementation units per institution and will target the use of external technical assistance,
ensuring they report through to the relevant national authority. We will work towards an understanding
on remuneration codes of conduct between government and international partners for national
experts. We will facilitate the exchange of South-South and fragile-fragile experiences on transitions
out of fragility.
6.3 The provision of technical expertise in countries affected or emerging from
conflict remains a challenge. The United Nations Civilian Capacity Review analysed
how the UN and the international community can help to broaden and deepen the
pool of civilian experts to support the immediate capacity development needs in
these contexts. The review emphasises the importance of national ownership of
peacebuilding, South-South cooperation and global partnerships to facilitate capacity
development, and improving the UN’s expertise and enabling a more nimble
Box 9 – Afghanistan: from crisis substitution to demand-led Technical Assistance
Afghanistan has received significant amounts of international military and civilian assistance since
2001. However, Government still suffers from significant capacity shortages and limited presence
outside of the capital. Over 6,000 Afghan or international technical advisers provide expertise to the
Afghan Government. Often, they perform routine functions in line ministries but they are consultants
paid significantly more than Afghan civil servants. This fragmented, project-based and supply driven
approach to capacity development is not leading to lasting improvements, and is no longer affordable.
The Civilian Technical Assistance Programme works with Government institutions to identify their
current capacity levels and objectives for reform programmes. It deploys teams of international (often
regional or Afghan expatriate) technical advisers into targeted departments. The technical advisers
work with Afghan civil servant counterparts to develop systems, improve structures and transfer skills.
Advisors have Ministry of Finance contracts and are paid through the Government budget. Since
2011, the programme has placed 56 advisers in 17 Government departments or agencies, with a
further 9 agencies in the pipeline. The programme is managed by the Ministry of Finance and is cofunded by the US, UK, Germany and Australia.
Further resources
- DFID Practice Paper (2010) Building Peaceful States and Societies
- World Development Report 2011, Chapter 3 ‘From violence to resilience: Restoring
confidence and transforming institutions’ and Chapter 6, ‘International support to
building confidence and transforming institutions’
- United Nations (2011) Civilian Capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict: Independent
report of the Advisory Committee
5. Aid instruments, results and value for money
5.1 Capacity development requires improvements to aid effectiveness. The way
in which aid is provided can undermine domestic capacity. Problems include: bypassing domestic budget and accountability procedures rather than strengthening
them; the proliferation of project implementation units; poaching of government staff
for projects; high salaries paid to technical advisers or distortionary schemes for
public servants (per diems, allowances, top-ups). These can help individual projects
succeed but at the same time undermine the overall public sector performance. This
is a central tension between sustainable development and the results agenda:
developing national capacity requires focusing not just on short term results, but also
on how these results are achieved, and how they can be sustained after aid has
ended. Results may be less easily attributable to DFID and slower to realise.
5.2 There is evidence that using country systems builds domestic capacity.
Evaluations consistently find that general budget support is an effective instrument in
strengthening public financial management systems. General budget support can
help implement institutional reforms, such as decentralisation, or improve the
conditions for revealing corruption and misappropriation of funds, but only when
partner countries are already committed to these objectives.xxi However, in deciding
whether to use country systems, capacity development benefits are not always
explicitly highlighted and often weighed against a wide range of risks (e.g. political or
5.3 Donors are still implementing their commitments under the 2005 Paris
Declaration and 2008 Accra Agenda for Action (see box 10). In the Multilateral Aid
Review, DFID included an assessment criteria on ‘multilateral partnership behaviour’
(including country-led approach and coordination of capacity development
support).The UK is above the global average across all indicators and is one of only
six donors that use partner country systems for at least two thirds of their bilateral
aid. However, across all donors, only one out of 13 targets has been met (to
strengthen capacity through coordinated donor support). xxii Donor support for
capacity development remains supply driven, and technical cooperation is also more
likely to be tied than other forms of bilateral assistance.xxiii
Box 10 – Capacity Development in the Accra Agenda for Action: Developing Countries will
strengthen their capacity to lead and manage development (Para 14)
Without robust capacity—strong institutions, systems, and local expertise—developing countries
cannot fully own and manage their development processes. We agreed in the Paris Declaration that
capacity development is the responsibility of developing countries, with donors playing a supportive
role, and that technical co-operation is one means among others to develop capacity. Together,
developing countries and donors will take the following actions to strengthen capacity development:
a) Developing countries will systematically identify areas where there is a need to strengthen the
capacity to perform and deliver services at all levels—national, sub-national, sectoral, and thematic—
and design strategies to address them. Donors will strengthen their own capacity and skills to be more
responsive to developing countries’ needs.
b) Donors’ support for capacity development will be demand-driven and designed to support country
ownership. To this end, developing countries and donors will i) jointly select and manage technical cooperation, and ii) promote the provision of technical co-operation by local and regional resources,
including through South-South co-operation.
c) Developing countries and donors will work together at all levels to promote operational changes that
make capacity development support more effective.
5.4 It is essential to improve the use of technical cooperation (TC). TC
represents about a quarter of all development assistance (about $25bn/year).xxiv For
DFID, this was 11% of our 2010/11 bilateral programme, though this may be an
under-estimation due to classification issues. In addition TC is used in NGO and
multilateral activities and often complements financial aid packages so may
influence more than 11% of bilateral results.xxv TC refers to the provision of knowhow in the form of short and long term personnel (technical assistance – TA),
training and research, twinning arrangements, peer support and associated costs.
Some of the weaknesses of TA include supply driven expertise to fill gaps, rather
than to share skills and train counterparts. There can be an excessive focus on
technical knowledge, as opposed to the ‘soft skills’ of coaching and facilitating
change.xxvi Since 2006, DFID’s vision has been for a market-based, pooled
approach, putting partners in the lead in the identification, procurement (including of
local or regional experts) and management of TA. xxvii
5.5 As the DAC peer review noted, it is important for DFID to consider not just
technical assistance but a wider range of learning opportunities. This includes
short-term training or sponsoring degrees (in-country or overseas), coaching,
mentoring, study-tours (including South-South), change management, leadership
development, partnerships (such as twinning programmes) and networking. A
OECD DAC review of learning modalities looks at the strengths and challenges of
different approaches.xxviii
Box 11 - Human capacity development in the Overseas Territories
DFID assistance to the Overseas Territories systematically considers capacity development. Given
their small populations and outward migration, these territories often lack the necessary human
capacity to deliver essential public services. Through their Medium Term Expenditure Framework
(MTEF) business planning processes, St Helena and Montserrat are identifying and prioritising the
capacity constraints they feel hinder the achievement of their strategic objectives. DFID allocates
funding for technical assistance, for example long term experts to fill gaps in government and short
term experts to assist with a specific change process. The Territory Government then takes the lead in
sourcing expertise.
This approach to capacity development also takes into account longer term constraints. In Montserrat,
recurrent budget support for academic and vocational training is also tailored to capacity needs
assessments undertaken during the MTEF process. And it goes beyond the public sector: St Helena
and Montserrat are undertaking island-wide labour market and skills assessments. This will enable
more targeted support for priority growth sectors, such as improving the impact of tourism vocational
Further resources
- LendCD technical cooperation (online resource)
- OECD review of learning (2010) Table 3.1 contains a useful summary of options.
- European Commission guidance (2009)
5.6 More work is needed to better measure the contribution of capacity
development initiatives to sustainable results. A capacity development
intervention can be measured on the basis of whether the targeted individuals,
organisations or institutions are better able to deliver or enable service delivery or
other results. However, the results chain is long, and attribution difficult to quantify.
So, sometimes the capacity development intermediary step is not examined, and the
intervention is only measured in terms of the final result. The World Bank Institute
has been developing a Capacity Development for Results Framework for their
learning interventions (see figure below). It is a good starting point to become more
explicit about how to measure capacity outcomes. Some of the suggested
intermediate capacity outcomes include: increased awareness, improved skills,
improved teamwork, strengthened coalitions, or enhanced networks.
5.7 Innovations to improve measurement should not be seen as a technical afterthought to be added in a logframe. If the capacity development aspect of the
programme is explicitly discussed with partners from the outset, and included in the
theory of change, it will become easier to trace how the inputs are meant to deliver
the outputs and outcomes. This should include looking at local drivers of innovation
and how domestic constituencies have achieved changes in the past.
Box 12 – Government-led measurements of capacity improvements
Many developing countries find that the indicators to measure domestic capacity are developed by
international organisations or Western governments and have only limited relevance to their
DFID is working with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to build the capacity of
security and justice agencies in five developing countries to design indicators that are harnessed to
existing management practices and draw on routinely-collected data. The indicators developed in this
way respond quickly to the decisions of senior managers and so become integral to the planning and
delivery of security and justice and efforts to increase the professionalism and accountability of the
agencies concerned. In Jamaica, for example, the Commissioner is now able to plot the total number
of guns, drugs and wanted persons recovered against the number of searches conducted by each of
his nineteen police divisions. This measure of relative effectiveness enables him to test and refine
different policing strategies across the island and has led to a more efficient use of resources. The
next step is to test whether more effective policing is leading to better police-community relations.
5.8 Value for Money is ‘the optimal use of resources to achieve intended outcomes’.
It is best assessed by looking at economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Below is a
presentation of how to do this, along with practical examples.
Linking VfM to the Results Chain:
e.g.: Training,
Study Tours
e.g.: trained
trained ministerial
staff, changed
regulatory framework
e.g.: increased patient
care/educational results,
increased tax collection, increase
in number of private sector
Box 13- The 3-Es and Capacity Development
Economy: Assesses the cost of your inputs, given the quality and quantity of the outputs they help
deliver, i.e. are you satisfied with the cost of your programme inputs given their resulting output? A
good measure of this is input unit costs. You can for instance look at the cost of the consultants
employed to provide training/technical assistance, and benchmark these against their peers' rates for
a job requiring similar skill and duration.
Efficiency: Assesses how well a programme converts inputs into intended outputs. Depending on
whether you are looking at the capacity of individuals, organisations or the broader institutional
framework, you’ll be assessing to what extent the provision of technical assistance/training/study
programmes has helped improve on their skills/capabilities. A good measure of this is your output unit
cost e.g. it if cost you £10,000 to get 100 doctors trained, then it costs you £100 to train a doctor: is
that a reasonable cost in the context in which you are operating?
Effectiveness: Assesses whether your outputs are effectively delivering your expected outcome.
Again, depending on which level of capacity development your programme is dealing with, you’ll be
assessing to what extent trained individuals or more efficient public bodies and regulatory
environments are having an effect on your end objective, i.e. better functioning schools and hospitals,
more efficient public sector policy, firms’ reactions to a change in the regulatory environment. E.g. if a
£1,000 training of 100 auditors within the Ministry of Finance has enabled the detection of £100,000 of
non-explained budget expenditure, then the cost of £10 per auditor has largely been covered by the
£1000/head savings to the State.
Further Resources
- World Bank Institute (2011) Steps for designing a results focused capacity
development strategy
- LenCD Managing for Capacity Results and How to Formulate Capacity Indicators
Annex 1: Further information on capacity development
Key websites and information resources
Portal for the practice of capacity development and home of the journal. Takes a
systems-thinking approach to capacity development, as per the ECDPM 2008 DFID-funded
 CD Alliance
The CD Alliance is an informal and flexible forum for Southern political leaders to discuss,
share experiences, identify best practices and advocate for effective capacity development.
 International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding
Provides a new opportunity for policy discussions aimed at improving national and
international efforts in fragile and conflict-affected situations. It brings together fragile and
conflict-affected countries and regions, development partners and international
organisations. Includes a working group on capacity development.
 LenCD (Learning Network on Capacity Development)
LenCD has been working closely with the OECD, with a focus on joint south-north learning.
Their website has links to collections of case studies, research and policy papers and
discussions about capacity development.
 OECD DAC Initiative on Capacity Development
The OECD’s Initiative on Capacity Development has the task of helping donors and partner
countries to implement the commitments made on capacity development in the Accra
Agenda for Action, and ensuring that capacity development concerns are integrated across
the DAC’s agenda.
 UNDP Capacity Development Portal
Excellent resource on capacity development and UNDP’s approach to capacity development.
Includes information about UNDP’s 2010 “Capacity is Development” conference along with
an excellent collection of case studies.
 UN Knowledge Campus
A free self-paced on-line guide to capacity development. Login as guest.
 World Bank Capacity Development Resource Center
Aims to improve thinking and practice around results-oriented capacity development, this
website provides an overview of literature, lessons learned, and good practices, as well
as links to development agencies and other knowledge sources.
 World Bank Institute Capacity Development and Results Practice
Connects sources of knowledge and develops and shares innovative tools and resources to
advance results-focused capacity development programs and strategies.
References and useful documents
Asian Development Bank (2008) Practical guide to capacity development in a sector context.
AusAID (2009) Capacity Development Overview, Capacity Development Operational Policy
Notes, Policy Note 1.
Brinkerhoff, D. (2009) Developing capacity in fragile states. Public Administration and
Development, Vol. 30, pp.66-78.
DFID (2002) Capacity development: Where do we stand now?
DFID (2003) Promoting institutional and organisational development: A source book of tools
and techniques.
DFID (2006) Eliminating world poverty: Making governance work for the poor.
DFID (2006b) Evaluation of DFID-funded technical cooperation for economic management in
sub-Saharan Africa.
DFID (2006c) How to Note on providing technical cooperation personnel.
DFID (2009) Eliminating world poverty: Building our common future, White Paper 4.
DFID (2005) Capacity development and statebuilding: Issues, evidence and some
implications for DFID (Graham Teskey).
ECDPM (2008) Capacity, change and performance.
ECDPM (2008b) Capacity, change and performance – Insights and implications for
development cooperation, Policy Management Brief 21.
European Commission (2006) Institutional assessment and capacity development: Why,
what and how?
European Commission (2009) Toolkit for capacity development.
Capacity WORKS GIZ’s management tool for sustainable development.
Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth Research Programme (IPPG) (2010) Beyond
Institutions: Institutions and organizations in the politics and economics of growth and
poverty reduction – a thematic synthesis of research evidence
International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding – Working Group on improving
external assistance to Capacity Development in Fragile Situations (2011)
OECD (2006) The challenge of capacity development: Working towards good practice.
OECD DAC (2010) Peer Review of UK Development Assistance.
OECD (2011) Capacity development in aid business processes: Getting it right. Issues Brief
Partner Country Position Paper for Busan High Level Forum Four (June 2011)
Lant Pritchett, Michael Woolcock, and Matt Andrews. 2010. “Capability Traps? The
Mechanisms of Persistent Implementation Failure.” CGD Working Paper 234. Washington,
D.C.: Center for Global Development.
UNDP (2008) Supporting capacity development: The UNDP approach.
UNDP (2009) Capacity development: A UNDP Primer.
World Bank Institute (2009) The capacity development results framework: A strategic and
results-oriented approach to learning for capacity development.
End notes
OECD (2006) Capacity Development: Working towards good practice, p.12
OECD (2010) DAC Peer Review of UK Development Assistance - Main Findings and
Recommendations p.1
OECD (2010) DAC Peer Review of UK Development Assistance 0 - Secretariat Report pp.56-59 and 64-65.
Oxford Policy Management (2006) Developing Capacity? An Evaluation of DFID-funded Technical
cooperation for Economic Management in Sub-Saharan Africa – Synthesis Report
Operations Evaluation Department (2005) Capacity Building in Africa: An Evaluation of World Bank
Oxford Policy Management (2012) Multi-Stakeholder Evaluation of Public Sector Governance
Reform – Draft Synthesis Report
ECDPM (2008b) Capacity, change and performance – Insights and implications for development
cooperation, Policy Management Brief 21.
Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth Research Programme (IPPG) (2010) Beyond Institutions:
Institutions and organizations in the politics and economics of growth and poverty reduction – a
thematic synthesis of research evidence.
Graham Teskey (2005) Capacity Development and State Building: Issues, Evidence and
Implications for DFID.
Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth Research Programme (IPPG) (2010) Beyond Institutions:
Institutions and organizations in the politics and economics of growth and poverty reduction – a
thematic synthesis of research evidence.
For example Kaufmann, D. and Kraay, A. (2002) Growth without Governance. World Bank Policy
Research Working Paper No. 2928. Washington, DC: World Bank.
DFID (2010) Building Peaceful States and Society; WDR 2011
The Monrovia Roadmap on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (2011)
Oxford Policy Management (2006) Developing Capacity? An Evaluation of DFID-funded Technical
cooperation for Economic Management in Sub-Saharan Africa – Synthesis Report
Operations Evaluation Department (2005) Capacity Building in Africa: An Evaluation of World Bank
Support and Oxford Policy Management (2012) Multi-Stakeholder Evaluation of Public Sector
Governance Reform – Draft Synthesis Report
DFID (2011) The Engine of Development: the Private Sector and Prosperity for Poor People.
Evans, Peter (2004) ‘Development as Institutional Change: The Pitfalls of Monocropping and the
Potentials of Deliberation,’ Studies in Comparative International Development, Vol. 38, No. 4, pp. 3052; Rodrik, Dani (2008) ‘Second-Best Institutions’, American Economic Review 98(2): 100–4; Leeson,
Peter and Williamson, Claudia (2009) ‘Anarchy and Development: An Application of the Theory of
Second Best’, Law and Development Review 2(1): 49–69. Grindle, (2010) Good Enough Governance
Revisited, Development Policy Review, Volume 29, pages 119-221
DFID (2002) Conducting Institutional Appraisal and Development, chapters 2-3
Grindle (2000) Designing Reforms: Problems, Solutions and Politics, Kennedy School of
Government Working Papers Series
Andrews., M., McConnell, J. and Wescott, A., 2010, ‘Development as Leadership-led Change: A report for the
Global Leadership Initiative and the World Bank Institute (WBI)’, HKS Working Paper No. RWP10-009.
University of Birmingham (2006) A joint Evaluation of General Budget Support – 1994-2004
Synthesis Report ; OECD DAC (2011) Application of new approach to the evaluation of Budget
Support operations: Findings from Mali, Zambia and Tunisia Synthesis Report
57% (against a target of 50%) of technical co-operation implemented through co-ordinated
programmes consistent with national development strategies. OECD (2011), Aid Effectiveness 2005–
10: Progress in implementing the Paris Declaration, OECD Publishing. Page 19.
Technical cooperation (together with food aid) is not included in the DAC recommendation to untie
aid. In 2009, 64% of all bilateral technical cooperation was reported as untied, 22 % tied, with the
status of the remaining 14% not reported. OECD (2011), Aid Effectiveness 2005–10: Progress in
implementing the Paris Declaration, OECD Publishing. Page 54
OECD source
James Hradsky (2010) Perspective Notes: Technical Cooperation for Capacity Development
DFID (2006) How To Note on Providing Technical Cooperation Personnel
Pearson, J. (2011), “Training and Beyond: Seeking Better Practices for Capacity Development”,
OECD Development Co-operation Working Papers, No. 1, OECD Publishing. Table 3.1, page 33.